Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of arrest


  1. Lawfully seize (a suspect etc.)

Definition of arrest



    From Old French arester ("to stay, stop"), from Vulgar Latin *arrestare, from Latin ad- ("to") + restare ("to stop, remain behind, stay back"), from re- ("back") + stare ("to stand"), from PIE base *sta- ("to stand") (see Latin stet).


arrest (plural arrests)

  1. A check, stop, an act or instance of arresting something
  2. The condition of being stopped, standstill.
  3. (law) The act of arresting a criminal, suspect etc.
  4. A confinement, detention, as after an arrest
  5. A device to physically arrest motion

Derived terms


to arrest (third-person singular simple present arrests, present participle arresting, simple past and past participle arrested)

  • To stop
  • To seize

    * 1919: P. G. Wodehouse, My Man Jeeves, page ?
    There is something about this picture-something bold and vigorous, which arrests the attention. I feel sure it would be highly popular.

    * 1997: Chris Horrocks, Introducing Foucault, page 69 (Totem Books, Icon Books; ISBN 1840460865)
    I'm using mathesis - a universal science of measurement and order
    And there is also taxinomia a principle of classification and ordered tabulation.
    Knowledge replaced universal resemblance with finite differences. History was arrested and turned into tables …
    Western reason had entered the age of judgement.

  • To take into legal custody

Derived terms

  • arrester, arrestor
  • arrestment
  • arresting


  • Alphagram: aerrst
  • rarest
  • raster
  • raters
  • starer

Further reading

An arrest is the act of depriving a person of his or her liberty usually in relation to the investigation and prevention of crime. The term is Anglo-Norman in origin and is related to the French word arręt, meaning "stop".

Procedure (England)

In English law, whether a person has been arrested does not depend on the legal authority of the person enforcing the arrest, rather it depends upon whether he has been deprived of his liberty to go where he pleases. Whether an arrest is lawful depends on whether the police officer or civilian exercising the arrest is acting within the scope of her or his powers.

Upon arrest a person must ordinarily be taken to a police station as soon as is practicable, but may be released on bail.

Warnings on arrest (United Kingdom)

In the United Kingdom a person must be told that he is under arrest,[8] and "told in simple, non-technical language that he could understand, the essential legal and factual grounds for his arrest".[9] A person must be 'cautioned' when being arrested unless this is impractical due to the behaviour of the arrestee i.e. violence or drunkenness. The caution required in England and Wales states,

    You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you may later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.

Deviation from this accepted form is permitted provided that the same information is conveyed.

Following arrest

While an arrest will not necessarily lead to a criminal conviction, it may nonetheless have serious ramifications such as absence from work, social stigma, and in some cases, the legal obligation to disclose an incidence of arrest when the person applies for a job, a loan or a professional license. These collateral consequences are more severe in the United States than in the UK, where arrests without conviction are not usually considered significant and are not even recorded in a standard criminal record check. In the US, a person who was not found guilty after an arrest can remove his arrest record through an expungement or Finding of Factual Innocence. A legal action is sometimes filed against the government for wrongful arrest.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     landed property
2.     common stock
3.     lex situs
4.     lex causae
5.     lex fori
6.     status quo
7.     buggery
8.     conclusive presumption
9.     interlocutory
10.     writ of seizure and sale